I understand that once upon a time it was common to light the menorah at the entrance to one’s home, facing the street. These days this is no longer common, and most people place their menorah in the window instead. That way, everyone can see it. So why do some people persist in placing the menorah in an inside doorway?


You are right. The ideal place for the menorah—where it was placed it in Talmudic times—is at the front door of the home facing the street. However, the harsh realities of the Diaspora, both sociopolitical and meteorological, forced the menorah indoors, and the custom developed in some communities to put it on the windowsill instead. Yet another widespread tradition, followed also by the Chabad rebbes—and therefore the Chabad chassidim—is to put it by an interior door. Why?

A number of reasons have been suggested throughout the years for persisting to keep the menorah in a doorway. One factor may be that the Talmud describes the mezuzah on the right side and the menorah on the left side, surrounding us with mitzvahs. Many chassidic discources expound on the significance of this layout, which cannot be achieved in the window.

There are practical advantages, as well, which the Rebbe, of righteous memory, addressed in an addendum to a letter dated the last day of Chanukah 1969:

  • In order for the menorah’s light to be visible to those on the outside, it must be less than 20 cubits (under 32 feet) from the ground. As the windows of those who live on upper stories are often much higher than this, placing the menorah at the window does not serve those on the outside. And those on the inside are better served by a menorah in a doorway, which they will encounter whenever they pass.

  • Many traditional menorahs have back plates. When placing the menorah in the window, if you face it toward the street, the people in your house will not be able to see the candles, and if you face it inwards, what did you gain by placing it in the window?

    Likkutei Sichot, vol. 5, p. 456.